The following is a reminder. To me. Ive not lost my mojo–it’s more life has conspired (neutering! volunteering!) to snag my time. The below is a nudge to myself. About voice. My voice. And how I *need* to make the time to re-find it.
My Oakland gym.
Much to my parents’ chagrin I’m known for telling people I was not blessed with good genetics.
I’m the product of a super-smart woman and a quite brainy male.
As a result, I come from a family that values brains over brawn.
The college years.
I coasted happily on my intellect with little focus on appearance or exercise — until my senior year of college.
Graduation time was upon us and I quickly realized the weight I’d gained over the past four years prevented me from fitting into any of interview suits.
I *had* noticed my jeans no longer fit and knew my “diet” was more late night pizza & gossip than early morning oatmeal & runs — but I was having fun.
I’d happily lived in a place of denial—-where the uniform was unbuttoned jeans covered by over-sized sweaters–but that time was ending.
It was time to make a change.
My healthy living path led…to the gym?!
I look back now and am baffled the “change” I chose lead me to my school’s small, Division-3 weight room.
It was dark, dirty, and rarely used by non-athletes, yet for some reason I felt called to venture in and eexplore.
I didn’t fall immediately in love. I stumbled into sorta-like.
I had no clue what I was doing, but thanks to my ability to mimic what I’d seen on television or skimmed in magazines I created a hodgepodge of a resistance training routine.
I used only machines I recognized (hello leg extensions!), and relied on body-weight exercises (many, many push-ups).
After about six weeks (thankfully never injured myself with my ignorance), I was making visible progress — and could at the very least fit into my jackets and skirts again.
After graduation I found myself returning to my parents’ house along with my freshly minted English Literature degree.
Unable to find a job,I joined a women-only fitness center to have something to do while I searched.
It was the early 90s and, while some women were lifting weights, there were still few of us in the free weights area.
I still had thirty pounds to lose, but my women-only choice was less about insecurity and more wanted the camaraderie of lifting weights with other women.
I had no idea when I made this decision it would impact the rest of my life.
Weight training in a female-only environment quickly moved my relationship with the iron from like to love.
- I felt comfortable to trying new exercises without fear of people laughing at the fact I was a newbie.
- I brought workout magazines to the gym and imitated their routines.
- I bought Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Encyclopedia of Bodybuilding and lugged it everywhere I went.
More isn’t always better.
I lifted daily day.
I grew bigger and stronger and I felt amazing.
Until I didn’t.
After about six months in my love for the weights began to wane.
I didn’t look forward to my workouts. My muscles began to shrink.
I lifted seven days a week and yet appeared as though I’d never hoisted a weight.
I grew skinny-soft.
It took me a while (my brand wasn’t previously a play on the word MISFIT for nothing), but I finally deduced I’d been overtraining.
I educated myself.
I learned to listen to my body and heed the fact it demanded rest in order to grow.
I began to eat intuitively and feed my muscles what they asked for.
I slowed down and still in all facets of my life.
It was then I realized most clearly I’d found my voice amidst the dumbbells and cables.
I had shed the extra pounds yet was the least of the changes.
I walked taller. I spoke up in all situations with a confidence I never knew I possessed. I sought out new and uncomfortable situations I had previously avoided. I felt capable, heard, and strong.
And I’ve never looked back.
Is there an end?
I’ve maintained my weight loss over two decades and firmly believe it’s because weights, for me, are about more fitness.
- They’re the core of who I am.
- They’re the reason I’m BRAZEN.
- They’re why I’m completely comfortable in my own skin and with who I am.
I’m still lifting weights consistently at age 44.
I work full-time as a writer (seated for hours at a time) so my weight training looks pretty different now.
My workouts are at 4am when I can snag ‘me’ time before ‘everyone else’ time begins.
At 23, I never imagined I’d be able both to maintain my weight loss and be more fit two decades later.
Looking ahead, I plan to be the old woman in the free weights area at 84.
If you happen by and spy me in there, please come over, snag a dumbbell, bang out a few reps, and share your story.
Until then I’d love to hear YOUR weights love story in the comments below.
Is your resistance training tale a work in progress or a torrid love story already underway?